Tuesday, March 03, 2015

From Ian:

Times of Israel Live Blog: In blistering speech, PM warns ‘bad’ deal ‘paves path’ to Iranian nukes
PM receives 25 standing ovations
Haaretz’s Barak Ravid, who is sitting in the chamber, counts 25 standing ovations overall for Netanyahu during his address.
Israel doesn’t stand alone, Netanyahu says
Netanyahu says Jews are no longer scattered and powerless, and IDF soldiers have “boundless courage.”
He says Jews can defend themselves, and more applause breaks out.
“This is why as prime minister of Israel, I can promise you one more thing. Even if Israel has to stand alone, Israel will stand.”
More applause.
“But I know that Israel does not stand alone. I know that America stands with Israel. I know that you stand with Israel,” he says. More applause.
JPost Editorial: Another way forward
If Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu achieves nothing else in his speech before the US Congress on Tuesday, he will generate scrutiny of the nuclear agreement materializing with Iran. And there is much to be scrutinized. Furthermore, there is a way forward that necessitates neither signing a bad deal nor war with Iran.
Based on leaks by representatives of the US and other countries in the P5+1 (the UK, France, Russia and China, plus Germany) we know the general contours of the agreement set to be signed by the March 31 deadline.
If these leaks are to be believed, the latest worrying detail is that Washington may have conceded to Iran’s demand for a sunset clause. Though no international law permits it, the Islamic Republic will be granted the right to build its uranium enrichment capabilities as large as it wishes after a 10-year limitation. Perhaps a five-year phaseout period will be tacked on. Eventually, Iran will have the internationally sanctioned right to pursue nuclear weapons.
This will have immediate implications. Countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt, threatened by the Shi’ite regime’s expansionist ambitions in the region, will demand similar conditions for their own nuclear programs. US President Barack Obama has vowed to prevent precisely this sort of nuclear proliferation.
Gerald M. Steinberg : The US, Israel and the Iranian bomb
In 1992, shortly after Yitzhak Rabin became prime minister, he addressed an academic workshop in Tel Aviv focusing on military strategy and arms control. The Iranian nuclear threat was the top priority on Rabin’s strategic agenda as prime minister, and he was beginning to develop the elements of his response.
For over two decades, Rabin’s policies on Iran were adopted, extended and adjusted by every successive Israeli leader. On this issue, when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyhau addresses the US Congress again in Washington today, he will be reflecting this continuity. And while Israelis differ over the platform and timing, there is broad unity over the substance of Netanyhau’s message regarding the need to confront the reality of the Iranian threat.
For Rabin, the first line of defense on this as on many other strategic issues was through close cooperation with the United States government. From that first meeting, Rabin emphasized that the threat posed by the Islamic Republic, led by a supreme leader (a position still held by Ali Khamenei) spewing hate for Jews and Israel, along with Holocaust denial, was not limited to Israel or the Middle East. The Americans – as the world’s only superpower at the time following the collapse of the Soviet empire – understood what needed to be done, for their interest and to maintain global stability.
In 1996, after the assassination and then the election won by the Likud and Netanyahu, nothing changed in this central dimension of the US-Israel relationship. The strategic dialogues and close coordination between Washington and Jerusalem intensified as Iran repeatedly violated its commitments under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Opinion: Why Netanyahu Will Trump Obama in the Iran Nuclear Deal Showdown
The prophets of doom are out in full force predicting the great harm that will befall Israel as a result of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s upcoming speech to Congress on the Iranian nuclear threat.
Forgive me, but I just don’t see it that way. Israel and Netanyahu have everything to gain from the speech and relatively little to lose. And, as in the past when Obama and Netanyahu have publicly gone head to head, the Israeli premier will emerge the diplomatic victor.
Firstly, all the talk about the “fabric” of the US-Israel relationship being undermined, or the claim that support for Israel is becoming partisan is hardly credible. The pitifully small number of lawmakers who have said they will skip Netanyahu’s talk serves as testament to that. Recent polls show that the American public supports the Jewish State’s right to express its concerns about Iran and the mostly full attendance at the speech is a reflection of that.
Additionally, the bulk of US-Israel cooperation, including the extensive shared military, intelligence and research ventures as well as US aid to Israel, is overseen by Congress and the Pentagon.
A legitimate cause for concern is that Netanyahu’s speech risks inviting some act of vengeance from a spiteful Administration that views Netanyahu’s talk as a slight. The comments coming from John Kerry, Susan Rice and unnamed officials should be viewed as threats, not as observations.
Sen. Cruz Compares Nuke Deal to Munich, Netanyahu to Churchill
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Monday night that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress Tuesday "focuses on the single greatest security threat facing America – the threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons."
"We're at a moment in history where echoes of the past can be heard," he added. "The nuclear deal being negotiated with Iran, I believe, would be a historic mistake on the same order as Munich.
"To allow the theocratic extreme mullahs in Iran to have nuclear weapon capability increases dramatically the likelihood that those weapons of great destruction will be used to murder billions," the senator warned.
Almost one in four House Democrats will boycott Tuesday’s address by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the joint houses of Congress, writes The Hill.
Iran says it rejects Obama's demand for 10-year nuclear work halt
Iran on Tuesday rejected as "unacceptable" a demand by US President Barack Obama that Tehran freeze its sensitive nuclear activities for at least 10 years, the semi-official Fars news agency reported.
"Obama's stance ... is expressed in unacceptable and threatening phrases ... Iran will not accept excessive and illogical demands ... Tehran will continue nuclear negotiations with the six powers," Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif was quoted as saying by Fars.
In an interview with Reuters on Monday, Obama said Iran must commit to a verifiable halt of at least 10 years on sensitive nuclear work for a landmark atomic deal to be reached between Tehran and six major powers.
The United States and its European allies fear Iran wants to develop atomic bomb capability. Tehran says its program is for peaceful nuclear energy only.
All sanctions must end for a nuclear deal, Iran says
Reaching a comprehensive agreement on Iran’s nuclear program will require the swift end of all sanctions against the country, Tehran’s diplomats said on Monday ahead of an intensive round of negotiations with world powers on the matter in Switzerland.
“If they want an agreement, sanctions must go,” Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said. “We believe all sanctions must be lifted.”
Zarif’s comments suggest a deal is not quite imminent, although the P5+1 global powers – comprised of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany – have already presented Iran with a proposal that would limit the program for a finite period, allowing Tehran to retain a peaceful nuclear power program and a substantial amount of its nuclear infrastructure.
“You can’t bomb knowledge into oblivion unless you kill everybody,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said, also speaking to reporters from Geneva ahead of a summit with Zarif in the lakeside town of Montreux. “You can’t bomb it away.”
On Eve of Speech, Obama Smears Netanyahu
Obama’s full comment on Monday was: “Netanyahu made all sorts of claims. This was going to be a terrible deal. This was going to result in Iran getting 50 billion dollars worth of relief. Iran would not abide by the agreement. None of that has come true. It has turned out that in fact, during this period we’ve seen Iran not advance its program. In many ways, it’s rolled back elements of its program.”
However, each element of that claim is untrue–and some are outright lies.
The deal is a “terrible” deal, by the standards of the international community when Obama came to office, when the UN Security Council had banned any nuclear enrichment at all by Iran.
Furthermore, Netanyahu did not say that Iran would receive “50 billion dollars worth of relief.”
Obama seems to be misquoting an Israeli claim that sanctions relief would be $20 billion rather than the $7 billion the Obama administration promised. The Israelis were later proven to be correct.
The Iranian Deal Is Heavily Flawed - Amb. Dore Gold on Hannity March 2 2015
The U.S. is in the middle of negotiations with the Iranians. Why did the Iranian Revolutionary Guards put together a replica of a Nimitz-class U.S. aircraft carrier in the Strait of Hormuz and then blast it on Feb. 25 in a military exercise? These are the people you are negotiating with, and what are they doing? What are they trying to show?

Former Canadian Minister John Baird: ‘Just About Every Single Arab Country’ Shares Israel’s Concerns About Iran
Former Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Monday that almost all Arab countries in the Middle East share Israel’s concerns about Iran’s nuclear program. His remarks were made in an address at the 2015 AIPAC Policy Conference in Washington DC.
“I used to view Iran’s nuclear program almost exclusively through the lens of Israel but over the past four years, I can tell you, just about every single Arab country in the Middle East shares the exact same concern that we all share,” he said. “And that’s why it’s so important that we work in partnership.”
“When a regime undertakes a nuclear program and they have been so crystal clear about their desire to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, we’ve got to take that incredibly seriously,” he added. “I am tremendously concerned, obviously, about Iran. It is, in my judgement, the biggest threat to international peace and security in the world.”
Israel Project CEO: Iran Cannot be Trusted to Keep its Nuclear Commitments Without Pressure
The only diplomacy that will prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons is diplomacy that will force Iran “to make a choice between its nuclear infrastructure and the fuel cycle on the one hand, and access to nuclear peaceful and economic relief on the other,” Josh Block, the president and CEO of The Israel Project writes in an op-ed that was published yesterday in The Miami Herald.
Terms leaked about the emerging nuclear deal between the P5+1 nations and Iran, on the other hand, will offer Iran an opportunity to build a significant nuclear weapons program to threaten and destabilize an already volatile Middle East.
The emerging deal will reportedly allow Iran to maintain its nuclear-enrichment program — and then expand it to unlimited, industrial size in as few as 10 years. Rather than stopping proliferation, such an agreement would ensure massive nuclear proliferation across the Middle East, threaten global peace and embolden Iran as it emerges victorious from negotiations with the West.
Given Iran’s record of supporting global terror as well as cheating on its past nuclear commitments, any deal that doesn’t force it to stop enriching uranium indefinitely will offer Iran the opportunity to violate its future commitments with impunity.
John Kerry Warns Netanyahu Not to Spill Details of Iran Deal
Secretary of State John Kerry, possibly concerned along with the Obama Administration that the nuclear deal they are making with Iran has some details they would rather keep secret, gave an implied warning to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who will speak to Congress on Tuesday, that he better not spill any details of the deal in his speech.
Kerry is in Geneva, where he is scheduled to make a deal with Iran regarding its nuclear program. He intoned that he was “concerned by reports” that “selective details” of the planned U.S./Iran deal would be divulged.
Kerry’s words came after an Israeli official traveling with Netanyahu from Israel to Washington, D.C. told reporters that Israel has more information about the deal than much of Congress, according to the Times of Israel. The official stated that Netanyahu would speak about some of the details of the agreement when he speaks before Congress:
No, Mr. Kerry, There Can Be No Benefit of the Doubt on Iran
This is where Kerry shows himself a narrow, shallow thinker. He artificially boils Iran options down to two: Either cut a deal, no matter how bad and no matter how likely Iran is to cheat, or engage in military action that will be expensive and won’t end with a single strike. He refuses to recognize that either way, it is the Iranian regime which is the problem.
This doesn’t mean the United States should engage in Iraq- or Libya-style regime change. But what Kerry and crew have essentially done is take a regime foundering under decades of economic mismanagement and sanctions, and effectively subsidized its survival to the tune of $7 billion per year (and $11 billion total) since negotiations began. They did this against the backdrop of a dramatic decline in the price of oil and so forfeited the best opportunity in decades not to bring the Islamic Republic to its knees but rather to allow it to stumble and trip on its own. Ultimately, if the Iran problem is going to be resolved, it will mean an end to the clerical regime, not Kerry’s false choice. Trusting Iran is a non-starter. And that is exactly what Kerry seeks when he asks for benefit of the doubt on an agreement whose parameters he is too embarrassed to show to America’s Arab allies and Israel because he knows they will point out the obvious loopholes. No, Mr. Kerry, neither the White House nor Iran deserve benefit of the doubt on nuclear negotiations. The world cannot afford the consequences.
Bennett on Fox: Iran Deal is an 'Unmitigated Disaster'
The deal, Bennett said, “creates a path for [Iran] to get a bomb within several years and this is unacceptable.”
“Right now Iran is developing intercontinental missiles,” he warned. “Why are they doing that? If they want to hit Israel they’ve got already Shehab 3 missiles. They don’t need that. They need those missiles to hit New York, to hit London, to hit Paris.”
“If we legalize this criminal path it means that America is going to be at risk. It means that Europe is going to be at risk,” Bennett continued, saying that the world has already seen what radical Islam is doing and, if that is matched with nuclear weapons, “that’s a disaster.”
An acceptable deal, Bennett said, would be one that states that Iran cannot enrich uranium. “If they want nuclear power, they don’t have to enrich uranium. There’s no reason to allow them to do it,” he added.
Gallup poll: Dust-up with Obama has not cost Netanyahu support among US public
Despite being skewered in recent weeks by senior US officials and some mainstream media outlets, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favorability rating among the US public is at a near-record high, according to a Gallup poll released on Monday.
The results of the poll showed that tension with the President Barack Obama administration over his scheduled address to Congress on Tuesday has not harmed his image with the American public, and Americans see him about as favorably today as they did at any of the six measurements Gallup has taken since 1996.
The most recent poll found that 45 percent of the American public views Netanyahu favorably, a statistical tie with his 1998 rating – when 46% had a positive opinion of him – and 10 percentage points more than in 2012. Asked if they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Netanyahu, another 24% said they viewed him unfavorably.
According to the poll, there are sharp party differences regarding Netanyahu, with the Republicans much more likely to view Netanyahu positively (60%) than negatively (18%), while Democrats are evenly divided: 31% favorable and 31% unfavorable.
Among independents, 45% have a favorable view of Netanyahu, while 23% view him unfavorably.
Ahead of Netanyahu's speech, US media faults Iran deal
Netanyahu may be up for re-election soon, but the pressure seems to be squarely on Obama, at least in Washington. Netanyahu has managed to have the emerging agreement with Iran dominate the news cycle.
MSNBC is anything but anti-Obama, but on Monday, its morning talk show Morning Joe turned on the president. Congressman Adam Schiff, a Democrat from California, told hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski that he would attend the speech despite having "strong reservations." He added that he has been "encouraging people to go" and hear the speech, despite the controversy surrounding the invitation. He noted that he was looking forward to hearing Netanyahu speak about the nuclear issue and Israel's security.
Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic, and Washington Post foreign affairs columnist David Ignatius, also appeared on the panel. Both have expressed their strong support for a diplomatic resolution to the nuclear standoff with Iran. Goldberg, who is considered close to the Obama administration and has often channeled its views on Israel and Iran, wrote in an article on Sunday that Netanyahu's speech was important because it would force Obama to explain his conduct on Iran. Goldberg also said the speech would shift the onus to Obama, who would have to prove that he could deliver on his promise to prevent Iran's nuclearization.
Almost One in Four Democrats Will Boycott Bibi Speech
Almost one in four House Democrats will boycott Tuesday’s address by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to the joint houses of Congress, writes The Hill.
At least 55 Democrats — eight senators and 47 House members — have said that they will not attend the speech, in which Netanyahu hopes to convince Congress, and the American nation, not to allow the administration of Barack Obama to sign a “bad deal” with Iran, over its nuclear wepons program.
Vice President Joe Biden, who is traveling abroad, will also be absent.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) added her name to the list Monday, according to the Boston Globe. "It's unfortunate that Speaker Boehner's actions on the eve of a national election in Israel have made Tuesday's event more political and less helpful for addressing the critical issue of nuclear nonproliferation and the safety of our most important ally in the Middle East," Warren said in a statement.
“This has unfortunately become a partisan spectacle,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said Monday, adding his name to the list of no-shows. “I’d be uncomfortable being part of an event that I don’t believe should be happening.”
Iran's Khemenei: 'Increasing global hatred of Israel is a sign of divine help'
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has claimed that heightened anti-Israel sentiments across the globe serve as a sign of "divine help" in the Islamic Republic's fight against its arch enemy.
"Increasing global hatred of #Israel is a sign of divine help," he wrote late Monday on Twitter.
Iran's leading cleric came out against the pro-Israel lobby, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the group's annual confab on Monday.
Saudi Arabia: Columnist Stands with Netanyahu, Slams Obama
A look at Saudi Arabia's news media shows that the Persian Gulf monarchy stands squarely behind Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's efforts Tuesday in Congress.
In an article in Monday's edition of the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah (no relation to the Qatar-based television network), columnist Dr. Ahmad Al-Faraj comes out strongly against U.S. President Barack Obama. "I believe that Netanyahu's conduct will serve our interests, the people of the Gulf," he writes, "much more than the foolish behavior of one of the worst American presidents."
The article was translated and disseminated to Western media by MEMRI, the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute.
Al-Faraj writes that Obama is working to sign a deal with Iran at the expense of America's longtime allies in the Gulf, and that Netanyahu's campaign against the deal is therefore justified and serves the interests of the Gulf states.
Guardian editorial repeats their discredited claim that Mossad “contradicted” Bibi on Iran
It was sold as a revelation on par with their ‘Palestine Papers‘ expose in 2011. The Guardian last week published leaked cables purporting to show (among other highly specious claims) that Netanyahu’s allegations at the UN about Iran’s progress towards producing a nuclear bomb was “contradicted” by the Mossad. The bulk of the story (Leaked cables show Netanyahu’s Iran bomb claim contradicted by Mossad, Feb. 23) was based on one paragraph in a Mossad document purportedly shared with South African intelligence agencies a few weeks after Netanyahu’s speech to the UN.
The Guardian alleged that this document – originally obtained by Al-Jazeera – proved that “Netanyahu’s dramatic declaration to world leaders in 2012 that Iran was about a year away from making a nuclear bomb was contradicted by his own secret service.”
Today, in an official editorial (The Guardian view on Netanyahu in Washington: collusion or collision?, March 3), the Guardian doubled down on this claim. In the context of harshly criticizing Netanyahu’s decision to speak to Congress later today, the editorial intoned:
Only last week this newspaper revealed evidence that Mr Netanyahu presented the United Nations in 2012 with an account of Iran’s progress toward nuclear weapons that was contradicted by his own intelligence service. He must have known, when he made his speech to the UN, that his claims would be taken as reflecting the views of Israeli intelligence. This raises the question of whether he decided that the political benefit of playing up Iran’s progress and threat outweighed the Israeli state’s – and the world’s – interest in effective international pressure on Iran.
Let’s remember that the word “contradict” refers to denying the truth of a claim by stating the exact opposite.
Leading Democrat senator blasts administration’s Iran policy
After a rocky reaction to National Security Adviser Susan Rice’s plenary address Monday evening to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s (AIPAC) annual conference, Senator Robert Menendez (D-New Jersey) delivered a barn burner of a speech in which he unabashedly butted heads with the Democratic administration over Iran policy.
“When it comes to defending the US-Israel relationship, I am not intimidated by anyone—not Israel’s political enemies, and not by my political friends when I believe they’re wrong,” Menendez said triumphantly before a crowd that applauded enthusiastically throughout his address.
“As long as I have an ounce of fight left in me, as long as I have a vote and a say and a chance to protect the interest of Israel, the region, and the national security interests of the United States—Iran will never have a pathway to a weapon,” Menendez promised. “It will never threaten Israel or its neighbors, and it will never be in a position to start a nuclear arms race in the Middle East. Not on my watch.”
Report: Obama Has Cut Intelligence Cooperation with Israel
In response to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's opposition to the nuclear deal he warns threatens Israel's very existence, US President Barack Obama's administration has reportedly cut American intelligence cooperation with Israel.
A report on Monday night by the Hebrew-language Channel 10, notes that the cooperation between Israeli and American intelligence agencies until now has aided the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in formulating reports on Iran's nuclear program, reports that advanced the sanctions against the Islamic regime.
At the moment, while Israel is cooperating with various countries in terms of intelligence on Iran's nuclear program, the cooperation with the United States has stopped according to the report.
In closed conversations senior sources in the White House have expressed concerns that Netanyahu will reveal details Obama has kept secret from the nuclear deal being sealed with Iran, according to the news channel.
White House Denies it will Cut Israeli Aid over Iran Dispute
The White House on Monday denied rumors that it will curb US aid to Israel in response to a disagreement over Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's opposition to a deal with Iran, which he warns will leave it with nuclear capabilities.
As Netanyahu visited Washington to make the case against a looming deal with Tehran - US President Barack Obama's top foreign policy goal - the White House sought to quell reports that vast US military aid could be cut as a result.
Israeli media has suggested the Obama administration could trim some of the roughly $100 billion in existing aid and drag its feet on requests for more help with programs like the Magic Wand missile intercept system and the Arrow 3 weapon.
"The report is false" said National Security spokesperson Bernadette Meehan.
Netanyahu At AIPAC: Israel Never Forgets Its Friends
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking to AIPAC the day before his scheduled speech to Congress about the nuclear threat from Iran, referred to the traditional strength of the U.S./Israel relationship, making a point of especially thanking Congress for its support of the Jewish state. Addressing the members of AIPAC who came from around the country, Netanyahu said, “You're here in record numbers. 

You're here from coast to coast, from every part of this great land. And you're here at a critical time. You're here to tell the world that reports of the demise of the Israeli-U.S. relations are not only premature, they're just wrong. You're here to tell the world that our alliance is stronger than ever … I want to thank, most especially, members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans. I deeply appreciate your steadfast support for Israel, year in, year out.”
Netanyahu was clear about thanking those who have supported Israel, thanking President Miloš Zeman of the Czech Republic, and recalling the support Czechoslovakia always showed the state of Israel, as he recalled, “Mr. President, Israel never forgets its friends. And the Czech people have always been steadfast friends of Israel, the Jewish people, from the days of Thomas Masaryk at the inception of Zionism.

You know, Mr. President, when I entered the Israeli army in 1967, I received a Czech rifle. That was one of the rifles that was given to us by your people in our time of need in 1948. So thank you for being here today.”
AIPAC attendees gently roast Rice
Delegates at the AIPAC policy conference let US National Security Adviser Susan Rice know their displeasure with her by cheering during her speech.
At all the wrong moments.
Rice, who came out swinging against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week by calling his visit “damaging” to bilateral ties, made her case before the decidedly pro-Israel and pro-Netanyahu lobby in Washington.
Her hour-long speech often fell into the sentence construction of “I know…, but…,” which attendees used to gently jab by applauding during the first part of the sentence, but before the point she was really trying to make.
For instance, “I know that some of you will be urging Congress to insist that Iran forgo its domestic uranium enrichment entirely,” drew a hearty round of clapping.
However, when she continued “but, as desirable as that would be, it is neither realistic nor achievable,” she was met with crickets.
Iranian Supreme Leader Lashes out at AIPAC
Khamenei, who regularly calls for the destruction of Israel and the Jewish people, promoted anti-Semitic conspiracy theories about AIPAC amid the group’s annual D.C. confab, which attracts thousands of pro-Israel supporters from across the country.
“Zionists’ hegemony over US officials is such that these poor ppl have to show consideration for #Israel& cover up its crimes,” Khamenei wrote in one tweet, along with the hash tag, “ShutDownAIPAC.”
“Once ppl in West #realize their problems stem from Zionist domination over govts, great social movements will give #birth to a new world,” he wrote in another tweet.
Khamenei then celebrated a rise in hatred toward Israel, which also has been accompanied by several anti-Semitic attacks across Europe.
Mask wearing Code Pinkos attempt to shut down AIPAC 2015
The far left would always prefers to silencing speech with which they disagree to engaging in serious debate.
Benjamin Netanyahu will be speaking at AIPAC 2015, the annual conference of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. Loony Code Pink protesters wearing Netanyahu masks attempted to shut down the conference today.
Khaled Abu Toameh: Palestinians to file first 'war crime' case against Israel on April 1
The Palestinians plan to file the first war crimes case against Israel with the International Criminal Court on April 1, Muhammad Shtayyeh, a senior PLO official, said on Monday.
The Palestinian case refers two issues to the ICC – Operation Protective Edge in the Gaza Strip, and Israeli settlement building – Shtayyeh told visiting US church leaders.
Three “important steps” had to happen before the matter was settled, he said.
The first step is this week’s meeting of the PLO leadership to decide on the future of relations between the Palestinian Authority (an organ of the PLO) and Israel, Shtayyeh said.
The second is the March 17 election in Israel. US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called PA President Mahmoud Abbas and asked him to refrain from any “fateful” decisions until after the election.
Jerusalem court upholds Jewish prayer on Temple Mount
Activists hailed what they labeled as an historic victory on Monday, after the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court issued a ruling ostensibly backing claims that Jews be allowed to pray on the Temple Mount.
Activist Yehudah Glick had brought a law suit against the Israel Police for banning him for two years from visiting the site because of video evidence of him praying there.
Glick, who was seriously wounded in an assassination attempt last year by a Palestinian extremist, was banned from the Temple Mount between 2011 and 2013 after he was seen uttering a Jewish prayer at the site in a Channel 10 broadcast.
The security services prohibit non-Muslims from praying or engaging in other forms of worship on the Temple Mount, claiming that such activity inevitably triggers Palestinian violence.
The Supreme Court has previously upheld the theoretical right for Jews to pray at the site, although it has stated that the security services are permitted to take security considerations into account when deciding whether to allow non-Muslim prayer there.
House of Temple Mount activist shooter won’t be demolished
Initially, the state sought to demolish the home entirely as a punitive measure – a controversial measure it says is used to deter would-be terrorists from carrying out similar attacks.
Hijazi’s family, which lives in the house, appealed the decision in late 2014, mentioning, among other issues, that Glick survived the shooting and was recovering and that none of the family members were involved in the act carried out by their son, who was an Islamic Jihad operative.
Following the appeal, a panel of three justices suspended the demolition order.
On Monday, lawyers representing the state, said it would suffice to block Hijazi’s room, and that “the decision in this case on walling-in the room where the terrorist lived is proportional and reasonable and chimes in with ruling given only recently on similar cases.”
WATCH: MK Zoabi attacked during heated debate at college panel
A man was arrested for attacking MK Hanin Zoabi (Joint Arab List) during an appearance on a panel at the Ramat Gan College of Law on Tuesday.
The 28-year-old resident of Ramat Gan poured a bottle of juice on Zoabi while she was walking off the stage at the conference and was taken into custody. Zoabi was not harmed, but Emily Moatti, a strategist for the Joint Arab List, was attacked in the ensuing fracas and taken to hospital afterwards, according to the party.
Tel Aviv police said the atmosphere at the conference, which focused on the subject of women in politics, had become somewhat heated in the minutes before the incident, after an attendee in the crowd raised a Palestinian flag, drawing the ire of many present. In a video from the incident, MK Shuli Mualem (Bayit Yehudi) can be seen shouting at a woman in the front of the crowd holding a scarf bearing the word “Palestine” and the colors of the Palestinian flag.
In another video from the event, the conference has become rowdy, and as Zoabi is being walked offstage, she stops to take a picture with a fan, and then from off camera a hand can be seen pouring out a bottle of juice on her. The Arabic word for “whore” can then be heard, but it is unclear who said it or who it was directed at.
Watch: Islamic Jihad Boasts Hidden Mortars on the Border
After being blindfolded, Sommerville was taken to a concealed 120 millimeter mortar launcher buried under an olive grove in southern Gaza, supposedly right by the Israeli border.
The mortar shells proved among the most lethal weapons in the Gazan terrorist arsenal during the last operation, claiming numerous Israeli lives including that of a four-year-old boy in countless volleys on Israeli civilians.
Islamic Jihad showed the reporter how the mortar launcher site led deeper underground into a tunnel, which the terror group has busily been building after Israel destroyed many of the terror attack tunnels during the last war.
Speaking from the tunnel, Sommerville says of it "you can see how well constructed it is, it's an extensive network, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad say they used it in the last war and they're ready to use it in the next."
Hamas and Islamic Jihad have been using aid materials to rebuild their tunnels, with a massive smuggling ring recently revealed to have given Hamas military materials even in the midst of the last war.
The video also shows extensive Islamic Jihad training meant to prepare the terrorists for the next round of fighting.
BBC goes inside Gaza tunnels - BBC News

Palestinians To Boycott Israeli Currency, Use Barter Economy (satire)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced today that his government would soon expand its economic boycott of Israeli products and services to include barring the use of the shekel, Israel’s currency.
The shekel has served as the currency of choice in the Palestinian territories even after the Oslo self-rule agreements of 1993 and the Authority’s use of “State of Palestine” on its official documents as of last year. That very symbol of dependence and intertwined economies has now become the target of an anti-“normalization” movement among Palestinians who eschew any activity involving Israel, Israelis, or Israeli products lest such interactions imply acceptance of Israeli occupation.
Lacking a central bank of their own, and with no hope of establishing credit in international circles, the move away from the shekel necessitates either the adoption of an alternative existing currency or the implementation of some kind of sweeping alternative to currency itself, since anything minted or printed as actual Palestinian currency would be functionally worthless. Unwilling to trade dependence on Israeli currency for dependence on that of a third country, Abbas decided to mandate a barter-based economy, which will eliminate the use of such reminders of dependence and lack of sovereignty.
Palestinian economic officials began scrambling this morning to establish a centralized system for monitoring and regulating the accepted exchange rates for goods and services. The deadline for surrendering Israeli banknotes and coinage has been set at 31 March, but a spokesman for Abbas acknowledged that full implementation of the barter system, not to mention exchange of all the shekels in Palestinian circulation, is likely to require more than four weeks.
Purim Satire : Obama Ends Threats of Terrorism and War
With a broad smile wreathed across his face, president Barack Obama stood as a man vindicated by his policies as he proclaimed, “We have prevailed.” The latest news of what can be called monumental has swept through the Middle East signaling the dawning of a new era of hope and optimism.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi the leader of ISIS has announced the breakup of the Islamic State. He stated his fighters will be returning to their homes to take up the job offers by the Obama administration’s Foreign Job Initiative. Baghdadi stated, “We are very sorry about the damage we inflicted upon so many innocents. Our fighters were bored and depressed because of joblessness and the lack of hope. Now due to the generous policies of the Obama administration, which listened to our heartfelt concerns, we have changed.”
As fighters were packing up and exiting armed camps throughout the Middle East, Baghdadi expressed the hopes of the former Jihadists that their real aspirations were always job security and true understanding of their difficult plight “They will now go home and return to being respectable and productive citizens,” he said.
As a result of the break-up of ISIS, the government of Egypt has formally offered apologies to President Obama for having launched attacks against ISIS without notifying the White House. Egypt’s stunned President Al Sisi stated, “We did not realize that such solutions to conflict ever existed.”


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Elder of Ziyon - حـكـيـم صـهـيـون

This blog may be a labor of love for me, but it takes a lot of effort, time and money. For over 14 years and 30,000 articles I have been providing accurate, original news that would have remained unnoticed. I've written hundreds of scoops and sometimes my reporting ends up making a real difference. I appreciate any donations you can give to keep this blog going.


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